Yeats’ idealizing the unattainable

This goes back to the discussion that we had in class today about Yeats’ tendency toward idealizing something that cannot happen or not taking action toward it.  The poem that I am specifically thinking of, going along with the same theme of “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” is “He Wishes his Beloved Were Dead.”  I found it interesting that he feels that it would be a better life for him if his lover were dead; instead of desiring a life of happiness and practicality that married life brings, his spiritual ideals take over and he would rather not have that happiness.  I also think that goes back to the idea that to be all knowing is not the way to happiness.  Instead, he’d rather love a life of mystery, following suit with the Celtic tradition.

One Reply to “Yeats’ idealizing the unattainable”

  1. This also directly relates back to the idea that we talked about with Maud Gonne and his desire to have her and his desire for her to always remain his desire. He proposes to her at times he knows he will be shot down and the one time he knows he can propose to her and in fact actually receive her hand in marriage, he turns tail and runs. It is the whole ideal, and only the ideal, of the unattainable that Yeats find so attractive about her. It’s the mystery shrouding her perfection, or what he sees as perfection. Were he to in fact obtain what he “wanted” she would no longer be perfect, or mysterious. She would simply be his wife. This ends up begging the question did he every really have feelings for her or was she just the perfect object to project his desire on to.

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